Ode to the Owed

Noelani Schulmeyer


Sweat dances down your body.
It races to the interlocking threads of your socks
Where it will be held hostage
Until you throw yourself onto the scolding, 
Torn leather seats of your 
Used and reused truck,
Force the key in the ignition, 
Fire up the air conditioning, 
And drive down that black path.
Not looking into your mirror
To see what has been done.

But for now,
The only thing you can force
Is a solemn striking step, letting
Your feet settle deeper into their swamp.

Your hands strangle
The bar of the machine
Whose blades decapitate
The thin green tips. 
Homicide
At 24 Valley Drive
Because they were too long
Too mangy
Too mismatched 
Too many
Hundreds, then thousands
Genocide.

Your veins pulse 
Through your burning skin.
Gasping for air 
Like your lungs
Like their lungs.
They breathe, too.
They breathed, too.

Once you reach the fence
And turn, 
You see him standing outside 
His ivory French doors, 
Paycheck draped over his palm 
Like an owner holds a treat
After the dog’s trick is done.

He sees his land come alive
As you
Cut
It 
Down.
You give a nod 
Which is not returned.
You are owed nothing more 
Than what he holds.

Your head swivels forward,
Sees the blunt juxtaposition:
A column of what was 
And of what is. 

Just like he will always be what you see
Right now. 
Standing as is. 
And he will see you 
Only now. 
And never care if you were the man who was
Or come back and are the man
Who is. 
You are owed nothing more.

You continue until all of what was
Becomes what is. 
Until he can look out
At his grave yard - 
This graveyard of seared lush
And agree, with everyone else, 
That this is the only 
Kind of yard
That will ever look 
Pretty. 

 

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